Support during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

As many teachers and students prepare for exams during these times of uncertainty, it is our priority to support you in these extraordinary times.

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Our intention is that exams will take place and that students who have worked hard on their qualifications will have the opportunity to sit their examinations. We know how important this is to help students to progress with their next steps. As such, we are continuing with the published timetable, and have steps in place to support any students affected by the recent circumstances.

For the Autumn (October/November) 2020 and January 2021 exam series, for international general qualifications (iPrimary, iLowerSecondary, International GCSE, and International AS/A Level), we've made a number of additions and some refinements.

These arrangements are available to all students using international qualifications, including new entries, deferrals and students wanting to resit from any previous exam series, including the May and June 2020 series, and are subject to demand (see below for further details).

View the full list of subject availability and changes for each qualification in the autumn:

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We understand that the exceptional circumstances schools are facing around the world mean that it may be inevitable that individual candidates or whole cohorts cannot sit some or all of the exams they are entered for in the October/November 2020 or January 2021 series.

If students are unable to take any exams in the current series (and, for IAL students only, do not have any unit results banked from a previous series), centres will be able to enter students for a future series.

If a student can only sit some of their scheduled exams for a given subject, or have banked IAS/IAL units from previous series, it may be possible to award a qualification grade based on these results. Please see the Special Consideration section on this page for further details.

If students cannot attend exams due to medical-related reasons and special consideration (as described above) is not an option, exam centres can request that the corresponding entry fee be credited to the centre to be applied against future entries. The details of these arrangements are outlined in the Fees section on this page.

In response to the ongoing need for social distancing, we can now confirm the following in relation to coursework and NEA for the Autumn (October/November) 2020 and January 2021 exam series:

International GCSEs in Chinese, French, German, Spanish

Following the same approach as the corresponding UK GCSEs, these qualifications will NOT include the speaking units in the autumn 2020 series.

The removal of coursework and NEA components for Autumn 2020 means that the weighting of the exam components has been adjusted to make up 100% of the qualification. We will apply a scaling factor in accordance with the subject weighting to reflect the changes in relative weightings for each component.

Where there is more than one exam component, the amended weightings can be seen in the document below.

For qualifications where the removal of coursework/NEA leaves only one exam component, the exam will contribute 100% of the qualification outcome. The subjects with one exam component only can also be seen below.

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International GCSEs in English Language A, English Literature, Art & Design

These will be delivered in full, including coursework, in autumn 2020.

Special consideration is a post examination mark adjustment processed when students are disadvantaged during their exams.

If a student can only sit some of their scheduled exams, or have banked IAS/IAL units from previous series, it may be possible to award a qualification grade based on these results. To request this, the exam centre should apply for Special Consideration according to the processes outlined on our special requirements page.

The criteria for this award in the October/November 2020 or January 2021 series are:

  • Students are eligible for this type of special consideration if they have completed 25% of the total assessment (in the current or previous series) for the subject award.
  • If an IAL candidate has only AS unit(s) banked and is missing all A2 units, – the banked AS score(s) can be used to calculate the award. However, if the candidate has a banked score for another A2 unit, this will be used to determine the aegrotat for an A2 unit that has been missed.
  • Students must have unit entries in the current series for all remaining units of the specification (IAS/IAL only)
  • Students must have made a cash-in entry for the qualification to be awarded (IAS/IAL only).

The outcome of all special consideration requests is dependent on the different circumstances of each candidate and each case is considered on its own merits. All special consideration requests must be received within 7 days of the last examination of the series.

Note: Special considerations will not be applied in relation to lost teaching time during the school year.

If students cannot attend exams due to medical-related reasons and special consideration (as described on this page) is not an option, exam centres can request that the corresponding entry fee be credited to the centre to be applied against future entries. The details of these arrangements are outlined below:

 

Individual candidates

Group of candidates

Evidence

Centres requesting credits for individual candidates’ entries should provide as much evidence as available to demonstrate why a candidate could not attend an exam. This could include a:   

  • medical certificate 
  • positive COVID test result (own or of a household member) 
  • statement from exam centre confirming, for example, ‘failed’ health check on the day of the exam; self-isolating requirement etc.  

Centres requesting credits for groups/cohorts’ entries should provide as much evidence as available to demonstrate why a candidate could not attend an exam. This could include a: 

  • official/government documentation confirming exams cannot be run 
  • statement from exam centre confirming details of why exams could not take place.

Entry management

Centres must withdraw entries from the current series and enter them for a future series

Fees

Entry fees will be credited to the centre’s account. Note that this credit will be for the standard entry fee only – late fees cannot be credited.

Process

1. Exam centre withdraws entries*

2. Exam centre requests credit for the withdrawn entries by emailing pqs.internationaleo@pearson.com with the subject WITHDRAWAL CREDIT REQUEST

The following information must be provided for each candidate**:

- entry code
- full name
- UCI
- Date entry was withdrawn

3. Pearson Customer Services will review each request and reply to the requesting exam centre within our standard SLAs.

4. Once confirmed, the credit will be applied to the exam centre’s account and can be applied against future entries. Please note that this credit will be for the standard entry fee only, late fees will not be credited.

*If withdrawals could not be made before the exam date, this should be clearly indicated in the email.

**Wherever possible, please include all candidates/exams in the same email

The latest exam timetables are now published on our support page.

Exam timetables

* It's important that you make your entries before the deadline date as any qualification subjects without any entries by the above deadline date will be removed and late entries will not be accepted for any removed qualification subjects.

2020 has been a challenging year for students, parents, teachers and schools, with the closure of schools, cancellation of summer 2020 examinations and ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19. We understand how stressful this has been.

While many parts of the world are returning to school, we recognise that students around the world are facing different circumstances depending on the local government guidance in place, including some specific restrictions.

Our priority is to support students, whatever circumstance they face, to continue to move forward with learning, assessment and progression. As such, we are making available an autumn series for our international general qualifications, which will run in October and November 2020. This provides an opportunity to take examinations in 2020, with an exam-based grade. The autumn series for international qualifications are open to all students, and we know that they are particularly important for students who deferred or were not able to receive a grade in the summer series.

I’ve missed teaching time this year, and don’t feel ready to sit exams. What are my options?

We recognise that some students may not feel ready to enter for exams due to missed teaching time earlier in the year. If this is your situation, please discuss with your teacher and school who will be able to advise you. If this is not the right time for you, future series will be available.

I’m worried that I might not be able to sit exams. What are my options?

Some students may not be able to sit exams due to continued school closures through this period. If this is your situation, future series will be available in January and summer 2021.

Some students may experience disruption during the autumn series, due to school closures or local instances of COVID-19 outbreaks. If you experience this situation and have been able to sit some exams during the autumn series, your school may be able to apply for special considerations to receive grades. Please refer to the 'General qualifications for international schools and colleges' accordion, above.

Why are the autumn examinations running? Why aren’t Centre Assessment Grades being used for the autumn series, as in summer 2020?

We appreciate that some students may have queries whether the autumn series should apply the Centre Assessment Grade/calculated grade approach from the summer rather than the usual examination approach. The Centre Assessment Grade/calculated grade approach was put in place as a consistent global response to the circumstances of the summer. As education around the world starts to move towards to its usual rhythm, examinations are an important part of enabling learners to progress – and we have heard from your feedback this year how critical a return to examinations is. We have added the autumn series as an exceptional series in response to customer feedback requesting that students have the opportunity to receive a qualification grade based on the performance in an examination. If the autumn exam series is not right for you, please do refer to future series and the routes above.

Where can I find out more and get support on wellbeing?

Feeling a certain amount of concern or worry is natural when we encounter difficult or unsettling times. We would like to support wherever we can, from mindfulness practice to safeguarding, and are providing a range of resources suitable for teachers, parents and young people. If you are feeling anxious or upset, please remember to always talk to someone. If you are a student, talking to your family/parent/guardian or your close friends can help.

We would like to confirm details of the iPrimary, iLower Secondary, International GCSE and International AS/A Level exam windows as below.

Key dates summary

  Exam window Results date
iPrimary & iLower Secondary 24–27 May 2021 19 August 2021
International GCSE 17 May – 18 June 2021 27 August 2021
International AS/A Level 5 May – 17 June 2021 19 August 2021

We will be sharing in the coming weeks the provisional timetables for these windows, and these will as usual be open for your feedback and comments prior to finalising.

International AS/A Levels

For International AS/A Levels, the exam window will be 5 May – 17 June 2021. The current modular approach allows for greater flexibility through the year for teaching, learning and exam preparation. Your feedback said that it is essential to maintain the results date so that students can progress to further education or employment within the expected time frame. The unchanged International AS/A Level results date is 19 August 2021.

International GCSE

The International GCSE exam window for Summer 2021 will be 17 May – 18 June 2021. Your feedback said that opportunities to allow more teaching time would be valuable, alongside ensuring that the exam series fits within school term times globally and minimises additional stress for students. This approach also means that exams do not run during the Eid period, which we recognise is important for many of you.

These dates broadly align with the UK GCSE exam timetable, but the timetable for International GCSE will run over a longer window. Results for International GCSEs and UK GCSEs will be 27 August 2021.

Modifications for May/June 2021

As we have communicated recently, we have also made a number of modifications to the International qualifications to support you in preparing your students for exams in May/June 2021. To help you and your colleagues understand changes to qualifications and assessments across subjects, we’ve provided guidance and updates to specifications, exams and assessments.

Explore the details of the changes and the support for your subject

Details of Non-Examined Assessments are being worked through and we will be able to confirm the submission deadlines shortly. As has been communicated, there will be no remote visits and Non-Examined Assessments for most units will be collected via a new digital learner work transfer system, details of which can be found in this communication.

Please note that these changes apply to the 2021 exam series only. For students due to be examined in 2022, these changes do not apply.

GCSE, AS and A level qualifications

On Monday 12 October, the Department for Education in the UK confirmed that GCSE, AS and A level examinations will take place in summer 2021. Many of these exams will start somewhat later than originally planned and will be condensed into a shorter timetable running from 7 June – 2 July 2021. Outside of this window, the first GCSE Maths and English exams will take place on 26 and 27 May 2021 respectively.

The results dates will be:

  • Tuesday 24 August 2021 - AS and A level
  • Friday 27 August 2021 - GCSEs

Read the full announcement on the government website

Summer 2021 exam timetables

We are currently reviewing the summer 2021 assessment dates for our International qualifications and will confirm details on this shortly. The latest exam timetables will be published on our support page.

Exam timetables

We'll be supporting you and your students every step of the way with the 2021 assessment series. You can find out more about all the support we have available by following the below inks to the qualification page.

International GCSE

International AS/A Level

We can confirm that there will be no changes to any other subject for International AS/A level for the May/June 2021 exam series.

iPrimary and iLowerSecondary

We can confirm that there will be no changes to the qualification, specification or assessments for iPrimary or iLowerSecondary for the May/June 2021 exam series.

Find out more about the UK GCSE and GCSE A level

As many centres around the world prepare to deliver exams in the coming months, we would like to support your efforts to ensure that students and staff are kept safe during this period.

Centres must always follow the regulations and guidelines issued by their local government to keep candidates safe before, during and after sitting examinations.

To assist you, here are some examples of how organisations are preparing for the return of students to schools and administering exams. You may find these a useful reference to adapt to your local situation and conditions.

Please note that these are provided as a reference only and local regulations must always take priority.

Some key measures that centres may wish to consider in preparation for exams are:

Health and safety risk assessment - Update your risk assessment relating to the conduct of examinations to be sure you have identified the risks presented and take steps to manage these risks effectively. For example – you may want to consider any risks associated with students waiting to enter the exam room, when they are in the exam room and when they leave and how you will help them to keep a safe distance from each other at all times.

Capacity - Consider in advance your centre’s capacity to accommodate exams using your existing sites and staff. Will you have sufficient space for all your students if you increase the distance between them etc. You may need to consider booking alternative sites or invigilators so you can provide more distance between students during exams.

Social distancing - Make adaptations to rooms to support distancing where possible.

Ventilation - Ensure all exam rooms are well ventilated before, during and after exams.

Hygiene - Ensure that cleaning / hygiene procedures are in place for in all areas occupied by staff and students during exams.

Communication

  • state clearly that candidates must not attend exams if they are experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms
  • provide clear instructions regarding safety processes to staff and candidates before and on arrival e.g. hygiene procedures; how to enter and exit the exam room in a safe way; how to avoid gathering in large groups before or after the exam
  • contact Pearson if an exam is not able to proceed as planned because of local lockdown advice.

Contingencies - Anticipate and plan for the need to adapt e.g. what will you need to do if students appear unwell before or during an exam.

Training - Ensure invigilation staff are trained on all procedures and have a clear understanding of how to behave so they do not make students feel uncomfortable or put them at risk

Tracking - Ensure that you are formally tracking attendance to support COVID-19 track and trace measures in your country.

Further information and guidance
 

BTEC information and guidance for international centres

LCCI information and guidance for international centres

PTE Academic information and guidance for international centres

You can submit questions using our contact form. If you need to talk to us about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the effect on your centre and learners, Exam Officers can call us on +44 (0) 120 4770 696.